It’s possible to read too much into the first meet of the season, but that’s not going to stop us, is it?
LSU opened up the 2017 gymnastics season with a thorough domination of an SEC rival. Georgia isn’t quite the program they were when they were winning titles seemingly every year, but they still made it to Fort Worth last year. Heck, LSU had to survive a regional hosted by the Gym Dawgs after losing to them in the regular season.
Apparently, last year’s regular season defeat bothered the Tigers. This was midseason form, and a near professional dismantling of an opponent. Georgia never had a chance.
Over 7000 screaming LSU fans, including the governor and the school president, were on hand to see the Super Six banner unfurled. The preseason festivities kicked off DD Breaux’s 40th season as LSU’s gym coach, and this could be her greatest team yet. It sure looked like it on Friday night.
LSU jumped out to a huge early lead with a 49.525 on the vault rotation. Most encouraging, the highest score on the rotation was scored by freshman Kennedi Edney.
On the next rotation, LSU pushed its lead to nearly a point and a half, buoyed by a 49.375 uneven bars score. Sarah Finnegan posted the team high score of 9.900, but this rotation did give LSU fans its first cause of a concern.
Ashleigh Gnat scored just a 9.775, the lowest score of the rotation. This begs the question if maybe Gnat’s card is a bit too full and she would be better off competing on three events instead of all four. It seems her overall score is suffering as a result of competing in the all-around. It was a concern last season, and it has spilled into this year. Still early, but it bears watching.
That is probably the only cause for concern of the night, as LSU spent the final two rotations simply adding exclamation points. The lead was already far too large for Georgia to come back without a near total meltdown by LSU, which became a pipe dream after LSU scored a 49.450 on the beam.
When the team averages a near 9.90 on every slot on Satan’s Apparatus, you know the meet is going your way. Now, there was a bit of some hometown cooking on the scoring. LSU got the benefit of some friendly scoring that the team will not be able to count on when it takes the show on the road.
Still, the generous scoring was the difference between scoring 197.600 and 197.825, not the full FOUR-POINT margin of victory. LSU finished the night short of the 198.00 threshold, but comfortably won 197.825-193.600.
While LSU practically threw a party on the floor exercise, the Gym Dawgs completely came apart, victimized by a series of unfortunate falls. The only drama on the final rotation was whether Gnat could catch Myia Hambrick in the all-around. Gnat needed a perfect ten, but scored “just” a 9.95, falling just shy of Hambrick’s 39.575 overall score with a 39.525.
This wasn’t just a record performance for LSU, the best score in an opening meet in school history, but it was the best score in the nation this opening weekend. Oklahoma beat down Alabama, always a good thing, but their score did not match LSU’s record breaker.
One week in, and LSU is the #1 team in the country. No pressure. But this is exactly where this team wants to be: at the center of everyone’s attention.